When Caitlin Quinlivan and her fiance, Vijay Gorrepati, were preparing for their wedding, they wanted to find a way to bring their family and friends into their wedding vows and feel like part of their marriage.
They realized there was a way for their family and friends carry out their wedding vows, too.
She received her master’s in social work (specifically family support) at the University of Chicago, where she eventually met Vijay – though they met online first, before coincidentally realizing they attended the same university. Vijay was studying to become a psychiatrist, so the pair found common ground in their respective studies and passions.
“I wasn’t planning on staying in Chicago,” she recalls. “I always thought I’d move closer to home [South Dakota].”
Deciding to stay with Vijay in Chicago, she soon found the perfect position at UCAN, working with young parents and their children.
“It’s what I’m passionate about,” she explains. “Child relationships can do a lot for a child. Whatever circumstances they’re facing, if the relationships are good enough, they’ll be okay.”
Fast forward three years later, Vijay and Caitlin were getting ready for their wedding in March 2017.
When preparing their vows, they decided to include a promise to always engage in the community they live in, wherever it may be.
From there, they realized their guests could also partake in that vow.
In lieu of gifts, Caitlin and Vijay requested their guests donate to UCAN or the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club (where they live).
“It hit our hopes and desires more than gifts. We are minimalists,” she laughs. “We don’t need a lot of things. UCAN is such a strong service provider. I feel very confident that they would use the money effectively.”
Caitlin and Vijay knew at the time of their wedding last spring that they would most likely be leaving Chicago within the year, so they wanted to leave their community knowing they’d helped it.
“We wanted to leave our mark on Chicago,” she says, “even in this little way.”